Jyotir Linga Omkareswar and Amaleshwar in the Vindhya hills
Omkara Mantra Nilayam Mandhara Kusumapriyam |
Prutharaga priyadharam Jyothir mayam sivam Namami ||
An island was once cut out by the sacred Narmada as she flows furiously by the Vindya mountain. Omkareshwar is located in the little town of Mandhata, a little town still brimming with life among the lush green Vindhya hills along the Narmada. A sacred island, which carries the ancient charm of the north, as well as mythological legacy of Rishi Agasthya, Omkareshwar holds to the world one of the Jyotir Lingas out of 12. Interestingly this Linga was split into two, one placed at Omkareshwar and the other part was placed at Amaleshwar.
Omkareshwar gives the feel of the untouched north, untouched by the parasitic evolutions sold by the west. Here once can sit back and relax, having Lassi or a limca, and look at various colors of Sindur lined up for sales at shops near Dhabas. And then the curiosity moves on to the bridge that takes us back into the silence where only the sound of Om can be heard, on this island that is shaped the same way. A modern bridge that appears more like a blotch in this beautiful scenery connects ancient ghats from one side to the other, with even more ancient building towering around giving us a feeling that this still belongs to the ancient world, remnants of a city once built by the king of the Ikshvakus, King Mandhata who is believed to have worshipped Lord Shiva here.
Temple, ancient and sacred dot these beautiful ghats, a picture very similar giving the feeling of Varanasi and the Ganges. Rectangular boats ferry pilgrims across the river which shows all around, steep rising fort walls with ancient palaces and ghats with stairs leading up to the higher parts of this almost magical town, promising a darshan of the Lord in Jyotir Linga form.
As one rises up these steps, revealing a archaic world, where life goes on as usual, where old generations are replaced by new, where life may appear to “improve” but leaves behind the quaint little town hosting a grand temple to the Lord, and everyone gets to worship Him, bathing Him in abhishekam, on their own, something unheard of in the south of the Vindhyas. Mandhata is charming, with jarokhas and modern buildings intermingled so seamlessly that people and Gods in red occupy the street temples together, and worship still goes on as usual.
But what had Agasthya got to do with all this? It is believed that Narada once descended down into Bhu Loka and visited Mount Vindhya and sang praises of Mount Meru, saying all the devas live there. This was Narada’s way of attempting to reduce Mount Vindhya’s pride about his land. On the contrary Mount Vindhya prayed to Lord Shiva and performed penance vigorous enough for the Lord to appear in Jyotir Linga form as Omkareshwar and grant him a boon. Mount Vindhya, in comparison to Mount Meru wished that he would grow taller. And the wish was granted on a condition that he should not hinder the faith or worship of other Shiva devotees. Mount Vindhya grew, so much so that he blocked the Sun from rising as well as the moon. It was then that Rishi Agasthya descended to earth on the request of all in heaven and came upon the Vindhya range. He said he was headed south of the Vindhyas and that the mountains shouldn’t grow until he returned. Sure enough Mount Vindhya agreed and with that his growth was stopped. Sage Agasthya never returned to the North.
Omkareshwar also holds other treasures; Shankaracharya’s Guru is believed to have spent some time here in a cave. This island is also called Shivpuri. This also hosts to the Panchamuga Ganesha and Annapurani whose worship is considered equally auspicious. There is a lot to believe about Omkareshwar and Amaleshwar, apart from the others who hold equal respect in these soils.
Video courtesy: VALPARD FILMS on Youtube